Whenever I bring a boyfriend or friend home to meet my family, my mom tells them “Everything Sharon says can be put into three categories. There are things that are true, things she made up, and things she made up that she believes are true.” My mom knows me better than anyone on the planet, and her assessment is spot-on. I have a habit of making things up. I was one of those kids who told myself stories, exaggerated, and then slowly began to remember my exaggerations and anecdotes better than I could recall the actual events happening around me. My suspicion, though, is that everyone does this as much as I do – that we are living in a self-created world, where our perspective is always slightly twisted from that of the woman standing next to us.
This isn’t a new idea. Literature and philosophy across the centuries have examined memory and narrative, perspective and reality. It isn’t new, but it will also never be old. We will never find an answer, never find a single thread to follow. Every event that happens and breaks off into at least as many stories as there are witnesses, and those stories split off into other stories, memory and narrative becoming fractals, dividing into infinite copies of themselves.
These lines of discourse, stories that are complex reiterations of other stories, have always fascinated me. I knew that even if I started a blog dedicated to the art of storytelling, I wouldn’t want my views to be the only ones. And so Literations is born. I have no idea where it will eventually go, but for now I’m using it as something of a project of curated perspectives. The plan is this: one author types out a memory, a story that they wholeheartedly believe happened to them, presenting the reader with as much remembered detail as possible. A second author (who must necessarily have witnessed, participated in, or heard about the remembered event) then posts their own version, as they recall it, creating a second iteration.
Right now, on its birthday, the blog has only two confirmed contributors: myself and co-founder E.T. (not the extraterrestrial; I’ll leave it up to her to name herself), a friend I’ve known since we were six or seven years old (depending on which of us you ask). But we hope that it will grow to encompass countless others, becoming one long thread of iterations. We hope to take on participants who have known either of us at any and all phases of our lives, and eventually even to take on others outside our circle who can begin their own literations.
And we hope that, by exposing the gaps and spaces between our memories, we will begin to find a new kind of truth, the sort of truth that can spring only from multiple perspectives. The original is not necessarily the Truth; sometimes copies teach us more.